Cauliflower is a cool weather crop.
Cauliflowers are members of the Brassica family and are susceptible to club-root disease. Club root stunts your plants and results in a pathetic crop. Crop rotation and careful soil preparation will help to prevent this developing.
Anything that could check growth will reduce your crop, temperature is tough to control but one of the keys to success is a regular and even water supply.
Site and Soil
Full sun and a well-prepared rich well-drained soil are required. Mulch to keep the soil moist and cool
Sow seeds under cover approximately 8 weeks before the last frost, cover with 0.5cm (0.25in) of seed-raising mix.
Second crops can be sown into the garden 3-3.5 months before the first frost. Seeds should be sown 30cm (1ft) apart and thinned to 90cm (3ft) later.
Days to Germination 10 to 14 days.
Planting out Water before and after transplanting. This helps to ensure the transplanted seedlings establish well.
Transplanting should take place about 2-3 weeks before the last frost. Make sure seedlings have a growing point before transplanting at 5cm (2in) high into individual containers or into the garden. Space 90cm (2-3ft) apart in rows 90cm (3ft) apart, alternative plant in blocks spacing in 50cm (2ft) squares.
Planting under cloches will help plants to get away to an early start.
Fertilise seedlings at 7.5-10cm (3-4in) and again 4 weeks later.
Wrapping the foliage around the head while still small 5-7.5cm (2-3in) keep the heads white. This can also protect the flower-heads in severe winter weather, or protect summer cauliflower from damage from sunlight.
Water evenly and make sure cauliflower plants are never short of water. Mulch with compost, newspaper or polythene in dry weather to keep moist and cool.
Keep weed free to reduce competition and eliminate hiding places for pests.
One of the keys to success with cauliflower is consistency of care. Any drought or sudden temperature change can check growth. Water regularly, weed and remove pests on as a routine.
Harvest when the heads have formed and are still tight.
Remove and compost stems and leaves, unless these are obviously diseased.
Days to Harvest 45-70 days
Cauliflowers fresh to market
White, self-blanching, green and purple cauliflowers are available.
Read the Packet
- Early White Early maturing with large 20cm (9in) white heads
Always check the seed packet to confirm sowing time, planting depth and spacing.
Wrapping the foliage around the heads keeps them white
|Pests and Diseases
Caterpillars The caterpillars of cabbage butterflies (white butterflies) can cause considerable damage. Row covers to deny the egg-laying parents access, or picking off the caterpillars by hand is recommended. Derris dust is often used but a caution, recent studies indicate possible links to Parkinson's disease.
Slugs Slugs will cause extensive damage, especially to newly transplanted seedlings. Beer traps, picking off at night, grit. Slug bait should be used carefully near any edible crop, and if children have access to the garden.
Cabbage root fly The female fly lays eggs on the ground around the stem of the cabbage. Collars or covering with a horticultural row cloth or fleece with prevent this
Club root Attacks the root system, crippling the plant and resulting in a pathetic crop. Crop rotation, soil preparation, good drainage, and liming the ground to reduce acidity.
Splitting Splitting of spring cabbage is caused by rapid new growth when irrigation or rain follows a period of little moisture. Consistent watering regimes and cultivating near the roots may help.
Gardening in Small Spaces
Cauliflower is a slow maturing crop best suited to larger vegetable gardens.
More Vegetable Gardening